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Cutco Knives: Do They Live Up to the Hype?

By trk

Last Updated: October 28, 2023

best kitchen knives, Cutco, Cutco knives, Cutco review

Cutco knives are made in the USA and have been around since 1949. The buzz is all over the place on this brand: they are much loved or much hated, with not a lot in between. 

We bought both styles of Cutco knives to put to the test: a smooth edge chef's knife, and a serrated "Double D" santoku trimmer knife. We also did the research to learn about the company, brand features, quality, performance, pros and cons, and everything else you need to know to make the right decision about Cutco knives. 

Cutco Knives at a Glance

Cutco makes at least 34 different types of kitchen knives, and this doesn't count their table knives (aka steak knives), utensils, flatware, shears, and other kitchen tools ("Cutco" is an acronym for cooking utensil company").

Cutco makes two blade styles: a smooth edge and a serrated edge (called the "Double D" edge). Edge type is specific to different knives, so you can't choose which edge you get; for example, all chef's knives have smooth blades. They have three handle colors: Classic (brown), Pearl, and Red. These you can choose (though options may be limited on Amazon).

Here, we list a few of their most popular buying options. For a full catalog of knives and sets, go to Cutco.com.

Cutco Knife

Features

Cutco chef's knife

-Stamped 440A high carbon stainless steel

-7.6" blade w/smooth cutting edge

-No bolster, full tang

-HRC 56-60

-Cutting angle 15 degree double bevel

-Thermo-resin handle with proprietary design

-3 nickel-plated rivets

-8 oz.

-About $190 on Amazon/$170 at Cutco.com.

Cutco Santoku Style trimmer knife

-Stamped 440A high carbon stainless steel

-4.9" blade w/serrated ("Double D") cutting edge

-No bolster, full tang

-HRC 56-60

-Cutting angle 27 degree single bevel

-Thermo-resin handle with proprietary design

-3 nickel-plated rivets

-2.4 oz.

-About $90 on Amazon and Cutco.com.

Cutco 2.75" Paring Knife

see it on Amazon

see it at Cutco

Cutco 2.75 Paring knife

-Stamped 440A high carbon stainless steel

-2.75" blade w/smooth cutting edge

-No bolster, full tang

-HRC 56-60

-Cutting angle 15 degrees double bevel

-Thermo-resin handle with proprietary design

-3 nickel-plated rivets

-0.4 oz.

-About $80 on Amazon and Cutco.com.

Cutco 19pc. set with block

see it on Amazon

Cutco 19pc knife set w:block

-Stamped 440A high carbon stainless steel

-Mix of smooth and serrated edge knives

-No bolster, full tang

-HRC 56-60

-Cutting angle 15 degree double/27 degrees single

-Thermo-resin handles with proprietary design

-3 nickel-plated rivets

-Includes chef, santoku, trimmer, slicer, paring, steak knives, and more

-About $1500.

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About Cutco

From Wikipedia:

Cutco Corporation, formerly Alcas Corporation, is an American company that sells knives, predominantly through direct sales (they are also available on Amazon). It is the parent company of CUTCO Cutlery Corp., Vector Marketing, Ka-Bar Knives, and Schilling Forge. Its primary brand is Cutco.
The company was founded in 1949 by Alcoa and Case Cutlery (hence "Al-cas") to manufacture stainless steel knives for Alcoa's WearEver Cookware division. Alcoa purchased Case's share in the company in 1972, and Alcas became a separate private company in 1982 after a management buyout. In 1985, the company acquired Vector Marketing Corporation.
In early 2009, Alcas changed its name to Cutco, the name of the primary product.

Cutco is known for hiring college students to sell their knives door-to-door. While this is not inherently unethical, such a direct sales method results in customers not being able to compare price and quality to other brands. Largely for this reason, Cutco demands a premium price for their good-but-not-great quality knives. 

You can compare this sales method to Saladmaster and some other brands of waterless cookware, sold in a similar way that makes it difficult for consumers to compare prices. While you can't fault the quality of these products, people do tend to pay too much for them: knives with better steel in a retail setting (such as Wusthof) sell for the same or even less than Cutco knives (and most also have a lifetime guarantee).

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How We Tested Cutco Knives

Cutco chef's knife

Cutco chef's knife (smooth blade).

Cutco Santoku Style trimmer knife

Cutco santoku trimmer (serrated blade).

We tested two Cutco knives: the chef's knife and the santoku trimmer. The chef's knife is a smooth blade and the santoku trimmer is serrated (or "double D" in Cutco jargon). By testing these two blade, we got a good sense of most of Cutco's offerings.

The first thing we did was measure out-of-box sharpness with a professional edge tester. The lower the number, the sharper the knife. For reference, we're looking for a sharpness below 400 grams, per this table of sharpness standards:

Bess C knife sharpness scale

We tested each knife three times to make sure we got an accurate number. Here are the results:

Cutco chef's knife: 130g (utility razor blade)

Cutco santoku trimmer: 155g (utility razor blade)

We're not sure if the test works as well for serrated edges, but the testing results seem to be in the ballpark of where this knife should be. 

After sharpness testing, we used the knives as you would use any kitchen knives, cutting standard foods for about a month, including onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, apples and other fruits, plus cheeses, meats (cooked and raw), squashes, and more. 

For the santoku trimmer, we focused mostly on tomatoes, citrus fruit, and bread, as these are the foods you should use a serrated blade for, but we used it on other foods, too. Our testing results are below in the detailed reviews of both of these knives.

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Cutco Steel

Cutco uses 440A steel for their knife blades. It is a high carbon stainless steel, with a carbon content of 0.6-0.75%. 

Like all steels, 440A steel has both good and bad traits. One of its best traits (as far as knives go) is that it can be hot- and cold-treated to an extreme sharpness. It also has a high chromium content, which makes it highly resistant to corrosion (one of the reasons that Cutco knives stay shiny and looking new for many years). It is also very durable and will hold up to use and abuse in the kitchen (and you can put it in the dishwasher).

On the negative side, 440A is a soft steel, so it doesn't hold an edge all that well: it has a hardness rating range of 55-58 HRC, which means it will need regular steeling and fairly frequent sharpening to stay usable. 

This is contrary to Cutco's marketing, which claims that their knives will hold an edge for years without sharpening. But these are the objective facts about 440A steel, regardless of Cutco's marketing and the rave reviews these knives get from lovers of the brand. 

Their HRC rating is another clue: they rate their blades as "56-60 HRC," which is a huge range that is not very useful information for potential buyers. They are almost certainly on the lower end of this spectrum, which fits what we know about 440A steel. 

Most high-end knife makers use a harder steel than 440A, including 440C and X50CrMoV15. Compared to these steels, 440A is considered not as good. It's not a terrible choice for home kitchen knives, but it's not the best for most people, either. 

Here's a good article on 440A steel if you want to know more.

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Are Cutco Knives Forged or Stamped?

All Cutco blades are stamped rather than forged, meaning they're cut ("laser cut") from a single piece of steel, then ground into shape by machine and sharpened by hand. 

However, for stamped knives made with mid-range steel, Cutco knives are high quality and extremely sharp out of the box. Cutco achieves this sharpness with hot and cold treatments that coaxes the absolute best performance out of a not-very-hard steel. The blades are hand sharpened to a razor edge, so they provide excellent cutting performance when new.  

We talk more about forged vs. stamped knives below in our kitchen knife buying guide section.

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Cutco Blade Types

Cutco Double D blade closeup

Cutco "Double-D" edge closeup: serrations.

Cutco makes knives with two types of edges, smooth and serrated ("Double-D"). Different Cutco knives have different edges, and you can't pick which edge you want on a knife. For example, all Cutco chef's knives have a smooth edge (as a chef's knife should), and all Cutco santoku trimmers have a serrated edge.

If anyone has ever told you that Cutco knives stay sharp forever, they're talking about the Cutco knives with the "Double-D" edge. Cutco says their Double-D edge is not the same as a serrated edge, but we disagree. A serrated edge has many tiny recesses with sharp edges, which is pretty much exactly what the Double-D blade is, regardless of their marketing jargon (see photo above). 

The design does differ slightly from other serrated blades--the recesses are flat rather than curved--but the cutting effect is the same: a serrated edge works by tearing through foods rather than slicing through them.

Cutco also makes a "Micro Double D" blade, which has much smaller serrations. This is seen on some of their smaller blades such as their Traditional Cheese Knife.

Here's what Cutco has to say about their serrated knives:

When a serrated knife goes dull it's virtually impossible to bring back the edge. In order to sharpen a serrated knife correctly, it must be done on the exact same grinding wheel it was created on to match the serration.
In place of serrated knives, Cutco makes Double-D recessed edge knives. The difference is that serrated knife edges feature more of a saw design, whereas Cutco's Double-D edge is really a recessed, honed cutting edge.

A "recessed, honed cutting edge" is really the definition of a serrated blade, so the only real difference is the flat rather than curved recess. Also, it isn't really "impossible" to bring back a serrated edge; it's just a lot harder than for a smooth blade (more on this in a minute).

Which is the better edge? A smooth edge slices cleanly through food (at least it does when it's sharp), so most foods do best with a smooth edged blade. A serrated edge is like a saw blade that tears at food, which is only good for a few things, primarily bread. Many people like to use serrated blades on tomatoes and citrus fruits too, but if you realize that the serrations tear rather than slice, you can see that they are not the ideal choice for delicate foods like tomatoes. 

If you keep your smooth-edge blades sharp, there's no need to use a serrated blade on anything other than bread. This is why you don't often see serrated blades on high-end knife brands, and almost never on Japanese knives.

On the other hand, some cooks like serrated blades, so if you're in that camp, then a serrated blade is a decent choice. 

Do Serrated Blades Really Stay Sharp Forever?

No: serrated blades dull at the same rate as smooth blades made from the same type of steel. 

However, because of the toothed, saw-like design that tears rather than slices, serrated blades can feel sharp even when they're dull. This is the science behind Cutco's claim that their Double D knives rarely need sharpening. 

Some home cooks love serrated blades because they think they won't have to deal with sharpening. But if you are a serious cook, you will probably want to avoid serrated blades for anything other than bread because they can wreak havoc on delicate foods. And, because they don't really stay sharp forever, the tearing effect of serrations gets worse as the blade dulls (even if it still feels like it's performing adequately). 

In general, Cutco knives tend to be loved by home cooks who don't want to deal with sharpening their knives, and avoided by professional chefs and serious home cooks who prefer higher quality steel and like to keep their smooth blades in tip-top condition. 

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Cutco Blade Grinds (Cutting Angle)

Double and Single Bevel Knife Diagram

A blade grind/cutting angle diagram (from dreamofjapan.com).

Blade grind is the cutting angle of the knife. Kitchen knives can be ground to cutting angles anywhere from 10 degrees double bevel (double means it's angled on both sides) to 25 degrees double bevel, with the most common angle being 15 degrees double bevel, meaning it's ground on both sides. So for example, a 15-degree double bevel has a total cutting angle of 30 degrees, sometimes also expressed as "30 degrees inclusive.

Single bevel knives are angled only on one side and flat on the other. A single bevel is less common, typically seen only on specialty Japanese knives and serrated knives. 

Cutco smooth blades have a standard 15 degree double bevel grind/cutting angle. This means you can sharpen them with most electric and pull-through sharpeners and retain the factory edge. 

Cutco Double D (serrated) blades have a single, 27 degree bevel. Since serrated edges are less common, there is no standard angle for them, though they can range from 15-30 degrees. And since people rarely sharpen serrated knives themselves, the cutting angle is less important to know than on a smooth blade which you are going to sharpen yourself. 

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Sharpening Cutco Knives

Cutco Knife Sharpener

Cutco knife sharpener: for smooth blades only.

Many people believe that Cutco knives never need sharpening, but this is not the case. If you look at the Cutco website, they have a lot of information about sharpening their knives, and they sell a pull-through knife sharpener for their smooth blades. 

In fact, because they're made from a fairly soft steel, Cutco smooth blades need to be steeled regularly and sharpened rather frequently compared to some other brands of kitchen knives with harder steel (such as Wusthof, Global, and Zwilling). 

Serrated blades are a bit more complicated. Because they tear rather than cut cleanly, they give the illusion that they keep working even when they're dull. It's not that they stay sharp longer, it's that the tiny teeth provide a sawing action that still cuts through foods even when dull. 

Most people don't have the tools to sharpen serrated blades at home. It's an arduous process, requiring each recess to be ground individually with a small file (here's an example, though there are many file designs). And because the Cutco serrated blades have a flat recess rather than a curved one, even if you did have a file to sharpen serrated knives, it probably wouldn't work very well (though that is speculation on our part). 

Cutco provides "free" factory sharpening for the life of their knives, both serrated and smooth. We say "free" because Cutco charges a shipping and handling fee. But Cutco will sharpen your knives for you, and if they think a knife is in poor condition, they will replace it free of charge. This service is one of best selling points of Cutco knives. (For the actual fees, see the Famous Cutco Guarantee section below.)

See electric pull-through sharpener on Amazon (or see our review)

See manual pull-through sharpener on Amazon (less than half the price of the Cutco sharpener)

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Cutco Handles

Cutco handle closeup

Cutco handle closeup.

Cutco handles are the most un-conventional aspect of this brand.

The handles are made from thermoplastic resin, which is a durable, hard plastic seen on many good quality knives. Cutco calls their handles the "universal wedge lock handle" and claims it has a universally ergonomic design that suits large and small hands, as well as both right- and left-handed people. 

The handles are also dishwasher safe (although we recommend hand washing all of your good quality kitchen knives). They are available in three colors: dark brown, red, and pearl.

Despite Cutco's claims, whether the handles are comfortable or not is a matter of personal preference, as it is for all knives. And Cutco handles are thinner and smaller than most kitchen knife handles, with unique contouring unlike that on any other kitchen knife we've tested.

In our opinion, these handles are not made for long term comfort.

Pinch Grip

Pinch grip.

The handle also is not well-shaped for using a pinch grip, which is the most common grip used by professional chefs. This may be another reason that Cutco knives aren't more popular among serious chefs. (The handle does not narrow significantly where it meets the blade, so it gets in the way of using a pinch grip.)

The good news is that these knives are marketed to home cooks, and home cooks rarely use a knife long enough in one session to cause hand strain. But because the handles are so different from other knife handles, we recommend trying a Cutco knife for awhile before deciding if you're going to keep it. Fortunately, Cutco has an excellent return policy and will take a knife back if you're unsatisfied for any reason (including not liking the handle). 

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The Famous Cutco Guarantee

One of Cutco knives' most famous features is its Forever Guarantee. It appeals to a lot of home cooks who think it sounds fantastic. From their website:

If at any time you are not satisfied with the performance of your product, we will correct the problem or replace the product. Whether you made the initial purchase or you received Cutco as a gift, it is Cutco’s guarantee that your products will perform like new forever.

Below the Forever Guarantee are these additional guarantees:

Forever Performance Guarantee: If at any time you are not completely satisfied with the performance of your Cutco Product, we will correct the problem or replace it.
Forever Sharpness Guarantee: Cutco Knives, when used in the home, will remain sharp for many years, but after extended use they may need FREE sharpening. For sharpening of Double-D®- or straight-edge knives, send them along with a return shipping and handling fee of $12 (for 1 to 5 items) or $14 (for 6 to 10 items) or $17 (for 11 to 25 items) or $20 (for 26 to 40 items) to the address below or submit a request online. There is a 40 item limit per service request. 
Forever Replacement Service Agreement: Should your Cutco be damaged through unconventional use, we will replace it for half the current retail price plus applicable sales tax. Send the product with an explanatory note to the address listed below or submit a request online.
15 Day Unconditional Money Back Guarantee: If at any time within 15 days after receipt of your Cutco Product you are not satisfied with your purchase for any reason, you may get a full refund of your purchase price by contacting Cutco Customer Service.
Due to the personalization, engraved products cannot be returned under the Unconditional Money Back Guarantee. All other aspects of The Forever Guarantee do apply.
The Forever Guarantee is intended solely for consumer/ in-home use. The Forever Guarantee is not available for Cutco Products in need of service or replacement, as described in The Forever Guarantee, that have been purchased or otherwise acquired for the purpose of resale.

This all sounds great, and our research shows that Cutco does indeed back their products, as well as free sharpening forever, though you do have to pay shipping and handling.

(Though we will say that the 15 day money back guarantee seems unnecessary, as the Forever Guarantee makes the same promise for an unlimited amount of time--doesn't it?)

What buyers may not understand, though, is that all knife manufacturers with a good reputation back their products for life, and will replace any knife with any manufacturing defect. This includes most well known brands, such as Wusthof, Zwilling, Henckels, Shun, Miyabi, Dalstrong, Misen, and more. Most of these brands don't offer free sharpening (though Shun does), and they may not take a knife back 20 years after you purchase it like Cutco will, but because these knives are made from higher quality steel and, in most cases higher quality handles, you're unlikely to ever need to replace one of these brands. 

As for "free" sharpening, you can save shipping and handling costs and learn to sharpen your knives at home, for free--buy a pull-through sharpener if you don't want to learn how to use a whetstone--or bring them to a local knife sharpener, which will probably cost you less than Cutco's shipping and handling.

We're not trying to talk you out of buying Cutco knives if that's what you want. They're fine knives--but they're expensive, and there are a lot of other choices out there that are just as good or better, but for different reasons. There are also many cutlery brands that have steel as good as Cutco's, but cost significantly less (Dexter, Mercer, and Victorinox, for example). 

It's your money, so spend it wisely: do your research and make sure you get what you want.

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Cutco Knife Buying Options

See Cutco knives on Amazon

See Cutco knives at Cutco.com

Cutco sells several different styles of knives. Some of them are standard knives, like chef's knives, santokus, paring knives, and bread knives. But others are unique to Cutco, such as the trimmer (which looks like an extra long paring knife), the table knife (another name for a steak knife, which Cutco also makes, but the table knife is sold singly rather than in a set), and a spatula spreader (a rounded knife that looks like a rubber spatula and costs more than $100). 

Cutco also sells several knife sets, from small 3-5 piece sets that start at about $450, all the way up to behemoth 32-piece sets that go for about $4300 (who needs 12 steak knives??). 

Their most popular sets are probably somewhere in the middle; 12-18 piece sets that can still go for upwards of $2000. 

Make no mistake, Cutco knives are an investment. And even if you choose to go with an individual knife, you're probably going to spend upwards of $100. 

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Who Are Cutco Knives Best For?

As we've already said, Cutco knives are best for home cooks. In particular, Cutco knives are good for home cooks who hate the idea of keeping their knives sharp (the serrated blades in particular), who have a fairly large budget, and also maybe those who want to throw their knives in the dishwasher (though you should never do this, even if the manufacturer says it's okay). 

Cutco knows that home cooks are their primary market, and 100% of their sales and marketing is directed at them. 

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Do Chefs Use Cutco Knives?

All of our research shows that no, professional chefs do not use Cutco knives. In fact, Cutco lovers and haters seem evenly divided into two camps: professional chefs and serious home cooks who don't like Cutco knives, and home cooks who love Cutco knives. 

Why don't chefs and serious cooks like Cutco knives? The main reason is the soft steel: knives that get heavy use need harder steel to hold an edge longer and perform better; if the steel is too soft, you spend too much time sharpening the blades, especially if you use your knives frequently and for long periods at a time. Serious cooks tend to prefer harder steel. 

Another reason chefs don't like Cutco knives is the unconventional handles: they are on the small side and have kind of weird contouring. Long sessions could cause hand fatigue. Also, and maybe more importantly, the Cutco handles aren't shaped for a comfortable pinch grip, which is used commonly by people with good knife skills. Most high quality knives have an indentation where the handle meets the blade that allows for a pinch grip, but Cutco handles lack this. 

None of this means that Cutco knives aren't any good; the brand has millions of loyal followers who swear by the quality of these knives. They just don't happen to be professional chefs. 

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Why Are Cutco Knives So Expensive?

Softish, mid-grade steel and plastic handles: it seems like Cutco knives shouldn't be priced as high as they are, as you can get similar knives for a lot less.

Here are a few reasons why Cutco knives are so expensive:

  • Direct sales method (used for higher priced products to discourage comparison pricing).
  • Made in the USA.
  • The Forever Guarantee ensures that if knives ever need to be replaced, the company won't lose money.

So, are Cutco knives overpriced? It depends on who you ask and what your priorities are. If you want an unconditional guarantee and/or knives made in the USA, then you may be willing to pay a premium for them. If you're in this camp, then you won't think Cutco knives are overpriced.

However, if you are looking for high quality steel as well as top quality handle materials (such as natural woods), then you probably consider Cutco knives to be overpriced. 

We suspect the markup on Cutco knives is pretty significant. The steel and handle materials that Cutco uses are inexpensive compared to other knives in their price range. Also, no company can offer a "forever guarantee" and replace decades-old knives without a premium price tag. Finally, Cutco salespeople make a high commission on sales. All of these reasons contribute to the high price tag on Cutco products.

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Cutco Knife Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Forever warranty and free exchanges
  • Full tang
  • Excellent customer service
  • Free sharpening (you pay shipping)
  • Very sharp out of the box
  • Low maintenance, esp. the serrated blades
  • Three handle colors (black, pearl, red)
  • Made in USA.
Cons
  • Mediocre quality steel
  • Can't use a pinch grip comfortably
  • You can't sharpen the serrated blades yourself
  • Narrow blades don't have much knuckle clearance
  • Direct sales method makes it hard to compare to other brands
  • Expensive (we think overpriced).

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Cutco Vs. Wusthof

Cutco chef's knife

Cutco chef's knife.

Wusthof Chef's Knife

Wusthof Classic chef's knife.

Here we're looking at the Cutco chef's knife and the Wusthof Classic chef's knife. 

Steel: Cutco is stamped 440A high carbon stainless steel with a full tang and no bolster. Wusthof Classic is forged, high carbon X50CRMoV15 stainless steel with a full tang and full bolster. The Cutco knife is slightly lighter and easier to sharpen (because, no bolster and softer steel). 

Edge Retention/Sharpness: Cutco hardness is 56-60 HRC (most likely closer to 56 HRC). Wusthof Classic is 58 HRC. The Wusthof is harder steel and will hold an edge longer. They are both razor sharp out of the box.

The Wusthof Classic will have better edge retention because it's harder.

Handle: The Cutco handle is thermoplastic resin, Wusthof Classic is POM. POM wins this category for durability, but only slightly; both are good handle materials. (Note the differences in handle shape in images above.)

Price: The Cutco chef's knife, which is slightly longer than the standard 8-inch blade, goes for about $200; the Wusthof Classic chef's knife (8-inch) is about $145. 

Our overall choice is the Wusthof. It's forged, has harder steel, a more comfortable handle, and costs more than $50 less than the Cutco chef's knife. 

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Cutco Vs. Victorinox

Cutco chef's knife

Cutco chef's knife.

Victorinox Fibrox Pro chef's knife

Victorinox Fibrox Pro chef's knife.

Here we're looking at the Cutco chef's knife and the Victorinox Fibrox Pro chef's knife.

Steel: Cutco is stamped 440A high carbon stainless steel with a full tang and no bolster. Victorinox Fibrox Pro is stamped X55CrMo14 high carbon stainless steel  with a partial tang and no bolster. The Fibrox Pro weighs about 6 ounces, the Cutco knife weighs 8 ounces. 

Handle: The Cutco handle material is more durable than the Fibrox Pro. The Cutco handle is very small and thin, so even though it's more durable, the Fibrox Pro wins this category for shape, comfort, and usability. (Note the differences in handle shape in images above.)

Edge Retention/Sharpness: Cutco hardness is 56-60 HRC (most likely closer to 56 HRC). Fibrox Pro 55-56 HRC, so about the same. They are both extremely sharp out of the box and will hold an edge for about the same length of time.

Price: The Cutco chef's knife goes for about $200; the Fibrox Pro chef's knife is about $45. 

Our choice is the Victorinox, solely because the price is so much better for approximately the same quality steel.

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Review: Cutco Chef's Knife

Cutco chef's knife

See Cutco chef's knife on Amazon

See Cutco chef's knives at Cutco.com

See Cutco Petite chef's knife on Amazon

About $200/$190 for petite

Out-of-the-box sharpness: 130g (razor sharp) 

Weight: 8oz

Spine thickness at heel: 3.2mm

Features: The Cutco chef's knife weighs exactly 8 ounces, and it has a good solid feel. The standard Cutco chef's knife has a blade that's 9.5 inches long, so it's longer than a standard chef's knife. The Cutco Petite chef's knife has a blade that's 7.75 inches long, making it closer to the length of a standard chef's knife. 

Why does Cutco have non-standard blade lengths? We don't know. But if you want a knife closest to the standard length, go with the Petite chef's knife.

The blade is stamped from 440A steel and has a full tang. The handle comes in three colors: black, pearl, and red. It has a 15 degree double bevel cutting angle with a long, tapered flat grind that is supposed to help food fall away from the blade (though we did not notice a lot of difference from other knives in testing).

As with all other Cutco knives, the handle is thin and narrow, with unique contouring like we haven't seen on any other knife brands. If you prefer a thinner handle or have small hands, you may really like this knife. If you're looking for a more standard shape and size, this handle is not for you; this handle is also not for you if you like to use a pinch grip when you cut. 

For a stamped knife, it feels heavy and solid. The balance felt a little off, with most of the weight in the blade (which some people like because it helps the knife move through food).

Cutting Performance: This knife was extremely sharp out of the box. It performed well on everything we used it for, including carrots, onions, celery, tomatoes, apples, pineapples, winter squash, meats, and more. The large blade was a bit heavy and awkward for mincing garlic, but it was adequate. It was also too large to bone chickens (the santoku trimmer did a much better job). 

Cutco chef's knife slicing onion

After about a week of regular use, the knife began to feel a bit dull. Steeling with a ceramic honing steel brought the sharpness back to like-new condition. By the end of the testing period (about 5 weeks), the knife could have benefited from a sharpening.

The knife felt a little awkward to some of our testers, perhaps because of the handle design or the somewhat odd balance.

Overall, an extremely sharp, nicely performing knife. But most of our testers did not care for the Cutco handle, and most felt the balance was off, which made the knife feel a bit awkward at times, especially on harder foods.

Buying Options: These knives are available in three handle colors: dark brown, pearl, and red. If you buy from Amazon you'll probably only have the options to get the brown handle.

If you want a different color, you'll have to buy from Cutco.com.

Recommendation: The Cutco chef's knife is extremely sharp and has a solid feel. But at about $200 (or $190 for the "petite" 7.75-inch blade), we consider this knife overpriced. You can get a top quality Wusthof Classic chef's knife for about $145, or even go a step up to the Wusthof Classic Ikon for about $170. The steel is higher quality and the handle is more comfortable.

Cutco chef's knife

buy cutco chef's knife:

Amazon buy button

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Review: Cutco Santoku Trimmer

Cutco Santoku Style trimmer knife

See Cutco santoku trimmer on Amazon

See Cutco santoku trimmer at Cutco.com

About $90

Out-of-the-box sharpness: 155g (razor sharp) 

Weight: 3oz

Spine thickness at heel: 3.2mm

Features: The Cutco santoku trimmer weighs just 3 ounces, but it has a nice heft and a solid feel to it. We're not sure what a "trimmer" knife is, but the blade is wider, longer, and more substantial than a paring knife, yet isn't quite as wide or weighty as a utility knife. If you have small hands or just prefer a smaller knife than a standard chef's knife, you may really like the size and feel of this knife.

The serrated edge is good for breads, and many people will love it for tomatoes and citrus fruits. If you're a fan of a serrated blade, you will love the super sharp and smooth cutting feel of this knife.

The blade is stamped from 440A steel and has a full tang. The handle comes in three colors: black, pearl, and red. It has a 27 degree single cutting angle with a long, tapered flat grind that is supposed to help food fall away from the blade.

The knife feels well made and good in your hand (though the small handle and narrow blade takes some getting used to if your normal blade is a standard 8-inch chef's knife).

Cutting Performance: This knife was incredibly sharp. It did a great job slicing through tomatoes and bread, which is what serrated knives are best at. But it felt a little awkward to some of our testers, perhaps because of the handle design (too thin, with odd contouring) and the narrowness of the blade. 

And though to be fair it wasn't designed for foods like cheese, we like to test with cheese to see if it sticks to the blade, especially when a knife maker makes claims that their blade design allows food to fall away easily. Cheese did most definitely not fall away easily, as you can see:

Cheese on Cutco Knife

It sliced through everything very well, including bread, tomatoes, oranges, lemons, cheeses, and even meats. And the thin blade was a good shape for trimming meat from bones and fat from meat (hence the knife's name, perhaps). 

If you like a serrated blade, then you will probably really like this knife; if you don't, then you should probably stick to smooth blades.

Buying Options: Cutco knives are available in three handle colors: dark brown, pearl, and red. If you buy them from Amazon you'll probably only have the options to get the dark brown handle.

If you want a different color, you'll have to buy from Cutco.com, which may have higher prices.

Recommendation: Yes, we know Cutco knives get rave reviews on Amazon, and that these reviews are almost certainly real. If you're a homemaker and not a professional chef and don't have any aspirations to improve your knife skills to any degree, then you might really like this knife. But if you're a serious cook or professional, Cutco is probably not the right knife for you, especially a serrated blade. And, with this knife costing about $90, it's a lot for a knife with limited use (bread, tomatoes, and citrus fruit). 

On the other hand, if you like a serrated blade, give this knife a try. It feels solid and well made, and the sharpness was unsurpassed--and it held up well over more than a month of use.

Cutco Santoku Style trimmer knife

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How to Choose Kitchen Knives (A Buying Guide)

Parts of a Knife

Sets Vs. Individual Knives

Whether you want to buy a set or individual knives will depend on your situation (how many knives do you need? which knives do you know you'll use?), but even if you're just starting out and need everything, hear us out on the case for buying individual knives.

When you buy individual knives, you know you'll be getting exactly what you want. And, you can return the knife, whereas if you buy a set and don't like one or two of the knives, you're stuck with them unless you return the whole set.

Also, when you buy individual knives, you can have more than one of each type of knife. Why would you need this? Well, you may want a standard 8-inch chef knife for some tasks, while you'd prefer a longer one or a shorter one for others. Or you may prefer to use a chef knife for some tasks and a santoku for others. Or, you may find that you love chef's knives beyond all reason, and simply want to collect them or continually try new ones. If you buy a set, you may feel guilty doing this because you paid for a bunch of knives you're not using.

Finally, do you really need a boning knife or a fillet knife? You might, but you might not. It really depends on if you're cleaning a lot of fish and slicing up a lot of large chunks of meat. 

On the other hand, a set is a great way to get a lot of knives at once, and usually for less than what you'll pay buying individual blades. Just be sure you're getting the knives you want, and that you'll use all the knives in the set.

We think individual knives are the best way to go for most people, but a small set can be a good way to get a few knives at a better price.

Storage Considerations

One more reason to not buy a knife set is storage. If you have limited counter space, you probably shouldn't buy a knife block, especially a large one. Rather, just buy the few knives you need and keep them in a drawer (in a knife organizer or with guards on the blades--do not store knives free in a drawer to bang against each other).

You may also want to consider a smaller knife block. Magnetic blocks take up less space and can usually sit right next to a wall. If they're double sided, they can hold about 8-10 knives. You can buy them separately, then fill them up with knives of your choice.

For more on knife storage, see The Best Way to Store Your Kitchen Knives.

Which Knives Do You Really Need?

Most cooks really only need three knives: a chef's knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife--but you might need more than one of each of these, depending on how you use their knives. At the very least, having a couple of chef's knives in different sizes is useful. 

You may also need different knives depending on how you cook. If you're cutting your own roasts or steaks, you may want a boning knife, carving knife, or large butcher knife. If you do a lot of entertaining (or even if you don't), you may want a slicer for roasts and turkeys (which we've never seen in a set). 

The point here isn't to tell you which knives you need. The point is for you to figure it out for yourself, based on your cooking style--but the truth is that most cooks don't need to buy a set of more than the three basic knives. Once you know how you use these, then you can decide if you want different knives (or more of the same ones in different sizes or styles).

Cutco makes several types of knives, including the three standard chef's, bread, and paring knife. They have different sizes and styles to choose from, some of which are smooth blades and some serrated. And since Cutco knives are expensive, you're better off just getting the knives you want/need rather than a large set, which will cost several hundred or even thousands of dollars.

Overall Fit and Finish

Consider the overall look-and-feel of a knife: is it well balanced? Comfortable in your hand? Pretty? Properly polished, with no rough edges or protruding rivets?

Inexpensive knives may have odd finishing or poor quality rivets, meaning the knife may be uncomfortable to use and also may not last very long. Such knives are not a bargain at any price.

Look for features like:

  • Smooth handle and bolster: no protruding rivets or unfinished spots that dig into your hand.
  • Smooth spine: top quality knives have a rounded, polished spine that feels smooth in your hand and doesn't dig in.
  • Transitions from blade to handle: no crevices or looseness where the blade and handle meet, so the knife is solid throughout and there are no spots to collect food and other particles. 

Cutco knives are well made and nicely finished, with smooth blades and handles. They feel like good quality knives. However, the handles are on the small side, without a good place for a pinch grip, which can make them feel awkward to some people. 

Blade Considerations

For most buyers, the blade is the most important feature. You want to get high quality steel that will resist corrosion and stay sharp for a long time.

Here are some other considerations. 

Forged Vs. Stamped

Wusthof Classic Chef's Knife

Wusthof Classic: chef's knife: forged blade (see the bolster?)

Cutco chef's knife

Cutco Petite chef knife: flat blade (no bolster).

forged blade is by heating steel under pressure and then pounding it into shape. Forged knives have a bolster, the area of thicker steel where the blade meets the handle. A bolster increases weight, improves balance, and protects your fingers.

Heating and pressure of forging increase the strength of a blade, and help it keep an edge longer than a stamped blade.

stamped blade is cut from a sheet of steel. It has a uniform thickness throughout (except where the edge is ground, of course), and usually has no bolster, or a "bolster" that's part of the handle. 

Stamped knives are typically lighter than forged knives (which some people like). They have a different feel when using. They are sometimes not as well-balanced, which is usually not a problem for home cooks because they don't use their knives long enough in any one session to notice the imbalance or feel any hand strain.

At one time, forged knives were always considered the better choice, but knife technology has greatly improved. Today, stamped knives are a good choice if they are of good quality. 

In fact, a good quality stamped knife is better than a poor quality forged knife. Both exist.

There are many reasons to go with a stamped blade, including lightness, comfort, and price. 

Any good quality knife, forged or stamped, can be the right knife if you like how it feels and performs. 

All Cutco knives are stamped.

Steel Type

We discussed Cutco steel already, but it's an important part of choosing a knife.

Here's a brief introduction to knife steel.

There are three types of steel used in kitchen knives: stainless steel, carbon steel, and high carbon stainless steel.

Stainless steel is too soft to make good knives because it won't hold an edge so needs frequent sharpening. You see stainless steel on cheap knives.

Carbon steel is quite hard, and is often the choice of professional chefs because it holds an edge very well, which saves them time in the kitchen (less sharpening). But carbon steel is not corrosion resistant, so it rusts easily. You must be careful to keep carbon steel knives completely dry between uses or they rust.

For most home cooks, the best knife steel is high carbon stainless steel. This is stainless steel with a higher percentage of carbon, which makes it the best of both worlds: hard, durable steel that also resists corrosion.

All you really need to know is that there are two main types of high carbon stainless steel: German and Japanese. 

German steel is softer and more durable, but needs more frequent sharpening. Japanese steel is harder and holds an edge longer, but can chip due to brittleness. 

For most cooks, German high carbon stainless is the best steel choice. Japanese knives need more care, are more specialized, and are better for more advanced cooks. But they are exquisite tools when you use them for the right tasks.

Cutco knives are made of 440A steel, a mid-quality high carbon stainless steel. It is not a German steel, but has many characteristics of a German steel. However, it has less carbon than steels used by German knife makers, so it tends to be less hard and won't hold an edge as well (yes, true despite Cutco fans who swear they haven't sharpened their knives in 20 years).

Hardness

Knife steel hardness is measured by the Rockwell Scale in HRC units. Kitchen knife hardness can vary widely, from about 50 HRC seen in cheap blades, up to 65 HRC for high-end Japanese super steel. 

Good quality German knives have a hardness of about 55-58 HRC. This is hard enough to be durable, but soft enough to be easy to sharpen. 

Japanese knives range from about 58-65 HRC. This increase in hardness allows Japanese blades to hold an edge longer, but the higher you go above 60 HRC, the easier a blade can chip, so you have to be careful how you use such a sharp knife. For example, you should avoid hard foods and bones, and be careful not to twist the blade or drag it across the cutting board. High hardness Japanese knives can be a joy to use and excellent for certain tasks, but they are not the kitchen workhorses that softer, more durable German steel knives are.

Cutco knives have a stated hardness rating of 56-60 HRC, which is a ridiculous spread; 56 HRC being soft, inexpensive knives, and 60 HRC being the hardness of premium Japanese knives. Thus--and also because of our testing--we suspect that Cutco knives are much closer to 56 HRC than 60 HRC. 

Sharpness

Sharpness when new is a given, so if a new knife doesn't feel sharp, return it.

However, sharpness alone is not the only indication of quality. Any piece of steel can be made to be absurdly sharp with the right technique. So when considering sharpness, you want to think about how long a blade will hold its edge. Softer steel will naturally need to be sharpened more frequently, so if you go with steel that's too soft, you will have to be sharpen your knife more often than if you go with a harder steel.

On the other hand, if you go with a super hard steel, it will hold an edge well, but will probably be too delicate to use as an all purpose knife. 

The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle, which is around 57-59 HRC. Cutco knives are on the low end of that, at (probably) 56 HRC, but this is sharp enough for regular daily use.

Blade Grind

Cutco knife with blade grind callout

Most kitchen knives have a flat grind, including Cutco knives. This means that the blade tapers in a straight line on both sides of the knife from the spine down to the edge. 

Not all flat grinds are the same. Cutco knives have a long, tapering flat grind nearest the blade that probably helps give their knives a sharper feel, and possibly helps them stay sharp longer. 

If you buy a kitchen knife that has a different type of grind (such as Global), it may feel slightly different when you use it, but if you sharpen your knives yourself, all your grinds are eventually going to be flat (unless you have a belt grinder). 

In fact, the blade grind probably doesn't matter all that much, but it's nice to know what it is. Here's an article about blade grinds if you want to know more.

Cutting Angle

Cutting Angle Diagram 15 degrees

The blade grind results in a cutting angle, which is the angle to which the knife is ground and sharpened. A 15 degree double bevel is a common cutting angle and gives a knife a sharp feel. Cutting angles can range from 10 degrees, seen in high end Japanese knives, all the way up to 25 degrees, seen in older, more traditional German-style brands.

These angles are on one side of the knife, so the total cutting angle is not 10-25, but rather 20-50 (see the diagram above that shows this).

Cutco smooth blades have a standard 15 degree double bevel, which makes them easy to keep sharp because you have a wide variety of options for sharpening.

Cutco serrated blades (as discussed earlier) have a 27-degree single bevel, which means they're flat on one side. This is standard for serrated blades.

Shape, Size, Weight, and Balance

How a knife feels is affected by its shape, size, weight, and balance. You should try different knives to discover your favorites.

Chef's knives, in particular, vary greatly in shape, length, width, spine thickness, weight, balance, and more. Cutco only makes two chef's knives, but you will want to try them both to see which size and weight feels better to you.

An 8-inch chef's knife is the standard length, and the one we typically do most of our testing on. Cutco does not make an 8-inch chef's knife but the closest is their Petite Chef Knife, which is 7.75 inches long (so almost a regular chef's knife). The other chef's knife they make is 9.5 inches long.

When looking at other types of knives, the differences in shape, size, and style can be huge. However, there are standard shapes and sizes of most knives.

Look at these features when buying a knife:

  • Blade height: A blade should be tall/wide enough to provide knuckle clearance (the space between your fingers and the cutting board). Also look at handle placement to make sure you have knuckle clearance.
  • Belly: The belly of the knife--where the cutting edge curves up to the tip--should provide a good rock chop motion. Not all chef's knives do this well, so you should try a knife out before you decide if you want to keep it. If you prefer straight up-and-down cutting, you may want the opposite of a curved belly, such as a santoku or nakiri knife, which have a nearly flat cutting edge. Japanese chef's knives, called gyutos, also tend to have a straighter cutting edge than German chef's knives.
  • Spine thickness: You want a knife that's thin enough to feel nimble, but you also want durability. There is a wide range of spine thickness among chef's knives, from 1.5mm up to about 3.5mm, so be sure to get the spine thickness you want. Cutco chef's knives are 3.2mm thick at the spine, which is pretty standard for a German style chef's knife.
  • Length: You can buy chef's knives as short as 4 inches and as long as 14 inches. Try a few different lengths before you decide what's best for your cutting style. An 8-inch blade is the standard length, but if you have particularly large or small hands, try other blades to see if something else is a better fit. Other blade styles tend to have fewer options, but try a few if you can.
  • Balance: Balance is less important for home cooks who don't use their knives for hours on end like professional chefs do. However, good balance can make or break how a knife feels in your hand. The center of gravity should be where the blade meets the handle. It's not a deal breaker if the balance is off, especially if it's a bit more toward the blade (as it tends to be with stamped knives). However, if it's too far off, it can feel awkward to use and cause hand strain and fatigue.

Handle Considerations

Cutco handle closeup

Cutco handle.

Handle considerations include shape, size, and material.

Shape and Size

It's obvious, but a handle should fit your hand comfortably. 

Knife handles are designed to fit most hands, but if your hand size is above or below average, you may have to try a few different handles before you find one you like. 

If a handle doesn't fit your hand well, a knife can be hard to use and cause fatigue, strain, and blisters.

A knife handle should be thick enough and wide enough so you can wrap your hand around it comfortable. It should be long enough so your grip doesn't hang over the back edge.

Cutco handles are unique in their design. They are thinner and narrower than handles on other brands, and they have unusual contouring. Cutco claims their handles "universally ergonomic," but the thinness of them makes them uncomfortable for some people, and there is no real spot for your thumb and forefinger when doing a pinch grip. 

Of course, many people love Cutco handles and do find them comfortable. Because they are so different from other knife handles, be sure to try one out before you decide to keep the knife. 

Material

The two main options for handle material are wood and synthetic, although there are many different options in both categories. Wood handles can be made from cheap woods or very expensive woods, but all wood handles have a warm, soft, organic feel that most people like. Most wood handles are durable, but can harbor bacteria more easily than synthetics. 

Synthetics range from soft and grippy (seen mostly on inexpensive knives) to hard and smooth (seen on higher end knives). Cheaper synthetics like polypropylene are soft and not very durable, which means they can melt or crack when exposed to temperature extremes. Higher end synthetics, like POM, are quite hard and durable, and won't melt, crack, or discolor over time. 

All synthetics make durable handles, including the cheaper ones. And they won't harbor bacteria and other food pathogens like wood handles can.

There are also wood/synthetic composites such as pakkawood, and fabric/resin synthetics like micarta and G10. These make excellent handles that look and feel organic, yet are also durable. 

Cutco handles are synthetic. They're made from thermoplastic resin, which is a hard, durable material. One feature many people love is that Cutco knives are dishwasher safe--but please wash them by hand if you love your knives. 

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Cutco Knife FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about Cutco knives.

Are Cutco Knives Good Quality?

Cutco knives are good quality, but not top-end quality. The steel is on the soft side. It has a high chromium content but a fairly low carbon content. This means it will stay shiny for a very long time, but it won't hold an edge all that well--though Cutco knives are extremely sharp when new.

Why Are Cutco Knives so Expensive?

A few reasons. One is that they're made in the USA. Another is that their Forever Guarantee means they have to charge enough to make a profit, even if knives need to be replaced. And third is the direct sales method Cutco employs, which allows for higher prices because there is no way for consumers to compare prices to other brands.

Where Are Cutco Knives Made?

All Cutco knives are made in the USA.

Are Cutco Knives Dishwasher Safe?

Yes, Cutco knives are one of the few brands that are marketed as dishwasher safe. But dishwasher detergent, as well as the jostling around, can be hard on cutlery, so we recommend that you wash all your good kitchen knives by hand.

Can You Buy Cutco Knives at Costco?

Yes, sometimes. Costco runs occasional deals on Cutco knives. However, they will never have the full selection of Cutco knives, so if you want to see all your buying options, it's better to buy from the Cutco website, from a Cutco sales representative, or even from Amazon.

Which Cutco Knives Are Best?

This really depends on your preferences. Cutco is best known for their "stay sharp forever" serrated blades, but smooth blades are preferred by pro chefs and serious home cooks. Some of Cutco's top selling knives are the paring knife, steak knife, table knife, and cheese knife. For chef's knives, the Petite Chef Knife is more popular than the standard size Cutco chef knife. 

How Do You Sharpen Cutco Knives?

You can sharpen Cutco smooth blade knives as you would any knife: steel regularly between uses and sharpen when needed with a whetstone or pull-through sharpener.

Cutco serrated blades are best sharpened by a professional because serrated blades require a special tool and are much more finicky than smooth blades.

All Cutco knives can also be sent to Cutco for a "shipping and handling" fee. Cutco will sharpen any Cutco knife regardless of age or whether you are the original owner or not.

Do Cutco Knives Ever Go On Sale?

Sort of. If you google for "Cutco on sale," you'll find online coupons through various resellers. You may also find clearances occasionally on the Cutco.com website. But if you buy from a Cutco sales representative or from Amazon, you will almost certainly pay full price. 

Are Cutco Knives a Pyramid Scheme?

No, Cutco knives are not a pyramid scheme. Cutcon knives are primarily sold through the direct sales method, which means that a representative comes to your house and demonstrates the features of Cutco knives. Though this sales method often means very high prices and an inability to compare prices as you can in a retail setting, this is not a pyramid scheme. Cutco knives are a legitimate product, and Cutco sales reps only get paid on the number of knives they sell (they are not compensated for bringing new people in to the company). 

Cutco also has a few retail outlets now, including Amazon, Costco, and Cutco.com. 

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Final Thoughts on Cutco Knives

Cutco chef's knife slicing onion

Cutco knives are good quality knives that will last for a very long time, but they tend to evoke strong feelings: people either love or hate them.

The good: Very sharp, excellent guarantee, made in USA, low maintenance (esp. the serrated blades).

The bad: They are priced too high for the quality of steel you get and they have oddly shaped handles.

If you want knives that are easy to care for and can take a beating, Cutco may be the right brand for you. If you want something that professional chefs would use (e.g., harder steel, more conventional handle), you should keep looking.

Thanks for reading!

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